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Chart of the Day: Another Milestone in the Resurgence of the American Auto Industry

In 2011, each of the Big Three automakers posted a yearly profit for the first time since 2004

Today, we learned that each of the Big Three automakers posted a yearly profit for 2011. For the first time since 2004, all of those companies are operating in the black. 

But those aren’t the only milestones we’ve seen recently in the resurgence of the American auto industry. Or in the comeback of the American manufacturing sector. 

The January 2012 jobs report released earlier this month included another little-noticed milestone. The number of auto industry jobs added since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy after June 2009 now exceeds 200,000 — marking the strongest period of auto jobs growth since the late 1990s. That positive trend is particularly strong in the motor vehicle and parts manufacturing sector, which has added 121,900 jobs – a nearly 20 percent increase – since June 2009. And that growth is particularly notable given that some experts estimated that at least 1 million jobs could have been lost if GM and Chrysler had been liquidated.

Automotive Industry
(Motor Vehicles and Parts)
June 2009 January 2012 Total Jobs Added
Auto Industry Manufacturing 624,400 746,300 121,900
Auto Industry Retail 1,627,700 1,713,400 85,700
Total 2,252,100 2,459,700 207,600
Auto Industry Employment Chart

This trend isn’t unique to the auto sector – we have also gained over 400,000 manufacturing jobs in the past two years. Of course, there’s still more work to be done. While both the auto industry and the broader manufacturing sector have shown job growth, we still need to go much further to fully recover from the aftermath of the financial crisis. But these new milestones are certainly welcome news and represent a testament to the success of the tough but necessary choices made to retool and revitalize the American auto industry.